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Posted By Nan

Before reading this blog, read Luke 4:38-41.
This starts in the home of Peter and his brother Andrew. Our lives centre around our home, the place in which we feel comfortable and in control of our life. Often it contains other people too. The person we are married to, our parents, children. Our sense of well-being in large part comes from our home. Our home helps us to feel physically and emotionally whole. Jesus gives us spiritual wholeness through our relationship with him. In a Christian home, he is a vital member of the family.
Jesus arrives at the home of Peter and Andrew. He finds that Peter’s mother in law is ill. Peter cared about her and was concerned about her health. The whole household was concerned, just as a member of our home being ill would concern us. The family looked to Jesus with faith to heal her, and he did. So much so that she was able to serve a meal to the family immediately.
Jesus brought wholeness to that household. The mother in law was well, so the family members were at peace and happy. But he didn’t stop there. Later in the evening, when the Sabbath was over, other people came for healing and he healed them.
The next day Jesus started the day by praying. Prayer is very important, as shown by the fact that Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer to God. Prayer is conversation. We talk and listen. Conversation is a vital part of every relationship, when conversation ceases, relationships die. When we pray we enter into a conversation with God, through Jesus. We strengthen our relationship with him, and our faith. Jesus spent as much time as possible in conversation with His father. He got to know Him well and was able to voice His thoughts and test them against God’s knowledge and wisdom. He was better able to know God’s plan. I think he also enjoyed spending time talking to God because he enjoyed His company. For Jesus, praying was not a chore but a delight, a really good form of stress relief. Time spent with a family member. We can enjoy the same relationship with God in prayer. We will always find our Father in heaven delighted to hear from us and talk to us.
Immediately after praying, Jesus moved on. He stressed to His disciples that He came to bring good news for all. His healing, His spiritual healing is for all – that is why He came. Being ill stops us doing things, makes us miserable and can prevent us working and being able to provide for our family. Therefore, physical healing is important, but it is far more important for people to be saved and made whole. There are far more healthy people in this world who feel unhappy, lonely, are in despair, feel they have failed, feel lost and feel an undefinable emptiness in their lives. These people need the healing that Jesus can bring. The spiritual healing that comes from Jesus’ salvation.
Jesus’ healing is for us in our homes, the centre of our lives. It is also for the members of our community, those whose houses we walk past every day, those we buy goods from, seek assistance from, give assistance to. But Jesus’ healing is even greater than our local community. It is for those outside our area, people we have never met all over the world. The world is full of people who need to be made whole. Isaiah 61:1 - “The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me, because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heart broken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners.” All those who do not know Jesus’ salvation are these people. We need to be aware of that need in the world, and to care deeply for the people in need. We need to remember that meeting a person’s physical needs is not enough. People need spiritual healing as well through a relationship with Jesus Christ, our Saviour, their saviour. We shouldn’t be satisfied until we have done all God directs us to do to reach those people.

 

 
Posted By Nan

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching,and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. (Luke 22:1-6)
As Christians we learn the story of Jesus betrayal and crucifixion and we all look on Judas as the epitome of evil. We all rest content in the knowledge that we could never do anything as evil as that. But are we that immune from a Judas response?
I was reading the above reading today and verse three hit me. “Then Satan entered Judas…”. How did he do that? I am pretty sure he said something to Judas and Judas, in reacting to the doubts his words engendered in him, allowed him in.
What did Satan say to Judas?
Was Judas insecure? Did Satan say:
“He doesn’t trust you. Look at how he instructs Peter, he takes him everywhere. And what about John? He loves him. Does he ever pay attention to you? He’s not doing much is he? What happened to the revolution? Are you sure he’s the Messiah? They’re offering a nice amount of money to dob him in? Think what you could do with that?
Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any tree in the garden? (Genesis 3:1b).
How immune are we to Satan’s lies? Can you honestly say you have never falling for any of them. How often is our joy at a job well done removed by doubts. Who put those doubts there? It certainly wasn’t God. How often is our excitement at a new job dampened by doubts about our ability to do the job? How often is a kind act by another reduced to a cynical attempt to curry favour, or make us look inferior? Those thoughts haven’t come from God.
Recently I saw an episode of the old TV series “Touched by An Angel” in which Satan was in a town spreading dissent and hatred. He was very subtle. The people held a meeting to discuss standing up to a violent group in the town. He was such a charming man, so concerned about the issue, so concerned something be done, but… What about the dangers? Would this group torch your business or home? Maybe they would beat you? Kill you? So the people backed away from getting involved. The story culminated in a man confronting Satan. He pointed out how all his life he had listened to Satan’s lies but he wasn’t going to listen anymore. What struck me about the story, and chilled me, was recognising those doubts the Are you sure? If you put your name to this will you be safe? Did God really say that? It certainly made me think.
A prayer partner once gave me a copy of a tract she used for ‘putting on the armour of God’. In it you put the shield of faith over all and asked God for the discernment to recognise those fiery arrows. It was a good reminder that fiery arrows don’t often look like fiery arrows. They may look like a nice person who is being cautious, they may look like a prudent desire to get it right and not make a mistake.
Having reflected on that verse in Luke 22 I have come to the conclusion that we could easily have been Judas and we need to be very focused on Jesus and very sure of God’s great love for us. Of course this focus and assurance comes from reading the Bible at least daily and spending as much time as possible in prayer with God.
“Satan can't penetrate a heart that's pure, saturated in Scripture and fortified by faith” (The Word for Today)
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39.

 

 
Posted By Nan

Not long ago I had a conversation with a young woman who was on an extended overseas holiday. She was visiting loads of churches. I commented that she may be suffering from ABC by now (another b....y cathedral). Her reply was that she loved visiting God there because that was where she always found Him. I was intrigued by this.  As a child, I read in the old testament that God is constantly sending us messages to tell us he is.

Every beautiful sunset in large letters I AM,

every tree, beautiful cloud formation I AM.

every selfless act I AM.

In the New Testament Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that a time had come when we could worship God anywhere because we were worshipping Him in spirit and truth. (John 4:21-24)

 I see God everywhere in the world around me, both in the beauty of the natural world and the beauty of people's loving actions. I occasionally see God in a church, but not often. 

Isn’t it funny how some people see God in a church and their Sunday social club and others see God everywhere? I guess the question is, does seeing God only in church, limit our perception of what He can do?

 
Posted By Nan

When my children were babies, I attended a Music Ministry course at my local bible college. One of the first assignments we were given to complete was to read two articles in the college library. I don’t remember the identity of the musicians now, but I remember their message. Both men were at the forefront of modern Christian music. I remember in the previous decade, there had been a lot of reaction to the more modern Christian songs. Many church goers felt that only hymns were suitable and that modern music was not suitable for worship. I wonder what people said about Wesley’s hymns when he first wrote them? I digress, these men had both spent time in prayer seeking the answer to this criticism. Were they wrong to sing in a modern style? One man related how he was given a vision of judgement day. Every Christian musician stood before the throne and sang every song they had ever performed there in God’s presence. As they performed, their hearts were laid bare so all could see their true motivation.  Some, the angels joined in delight at their worship and it was a truly wonderful and awesome thing to witness.  Others, well what ensued was ugly and self seeking and drew horror and condemnation from the angels.  The performer felt great shame and dreaded a continuation of their terrible song.  The point of these articles was that it is not the way you worship God that matters it is what is in your heart.  I believe this applies to everything we do.  If we pray with more concern for our performance than for talking to God the same thing will happen. If look at another person and feel superior in our Christian walk the same thing will happen.  I had someone once who felt angry because I did not agree with their point of view and they wanted everyone to agree with them.  In their anger they told me they were going to pray to God for me to have the spirit of gentleness.  If they were to have that instant played out in front of God they would find themselves in the same position as the self seeking performer.  What they had in effect been unwittingly trying to do was curse me by suggesting I was a hard person.  I know that is so because God immediately warned me to stand against what they had said because it was a curse.  I do not consider myself above any of these temptations, but I have learned over the years to have a proper fear of God.  I long to be one whom the angels join in praising God not one who cringes in horror at one’s own lack of humility.

We must always imagine ourselves in front of God and see if we can look him in the face and say the things we long to say.  Most of the time, we can not.

Words build up but they can also tear down.  Make sure your words are words of encouragement and praise not judgment and destruction.

 

 
Posted By Nan

Continuing on from my previous blog about The boy and his horse.
While Shasta and Aslan travelled together through the fog, they talked about how Aslan had become a lion to chase Shasta and his companions in the final moments of reaching Archenland, when they were desperate to warn the people of that land of an impending invasion. During that dash, the lion scratched the arm of the girl, Aravis and her Narnian horse, Bree. Remembering this, Shasta asked Aslan why he had to attack Aravis.  Aslan told Shasta that answer belonged to Aravis. Frequently, God's answers in other people's lives is none of our business. Our role is to worry about our own relationship with God and trust we will know what he need to when we need it.  The result of this attack was marked on both Aravis and Bree.  Both were proud beings who felt themselves superior to Shasta and others.  Remember love is not proud, 1 Corinthians 13:4. Bree learned humility and Aravis learned that Shasta was not a lowly slave but a brave, true person.  She learned that she was nothing just because she was of wealthy birth.  So often we are like Aravis and Bree.  We lack the humility to see others as God sees them.  We pay lip service to asking God to show us the person as He sees them but we don’t really mean it.  We are all, in varying degrees, very willing to judge others without ‘letting the truth get in the way of a good story’.  I am reminded here of the movie Babe.  Babe reaches a point when he has been told by various animals how stupid the other animals are.  When he discovers what he has been told is not true he vows to never judge anyone again based on what he is told.  We would do well to do likewise.  We all need humility, to not judge without establishing the facts first. 
Many years ago I witnessed a conflict between the head of a church run Pre-School and the Minister.  He never said anything against the woman although she was very forthcoming on her opinion of him.  After she left, it was discovered by others the extent of her wrongdoing and people, who had been quick to judge the minister, realised he had been right.  What always impressed me about him was that he had ‘looked after his character and let his reputation look after itself.’  He had resisted the temptation to buy into the public slanging match and looked the better for it.  When judging others it is worth remembering this incident.  Just because someone fills the air with words does not mean their words are right.  If we judge others without even speaking to them and finding out their side of the story we are as guilty as Aravis of pride and prejudice.  When we look at two people with identical behaviour and dismiss the first as normal but treat the second as abnormal based on rumour we have heard we are guilty of the same sin.

We need to look at Jesus, at his inclusiveness and his refusal to judge and condemn people and behave likewise.

 


 
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Nan
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